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Biscotti more correctly known as biscotti di Prato (Prato biscuits), also known as cantuccini (nooks), are twice-baked biscuits originating in the Italian
Italian cuisine
Italian cuisine has developed through centuries of social and political changes, with roots as far back as the 4th century BCE. Italian cuisine in itself takes heavy influences, including Etruscan, ancient Greek, ancient Roman, Byzantine, Jewish and Arab cuisines...

 city of Prato
Prato
Prato is a city and comune in Tuscany, Italy, the capital of the Province of Prato. The city is situated at the foot of Monte Retaia , the last peak in the Calvana chain. The lowest altitude in the comune is 32 m, near the Cascine di Tavola, and the highest is the peak of Monte Cantagrillo...

. The biscuits are oblong-shaped almond biscuits, made dry and crunchy through cutting the loaf of dough while still hot and fresh from baking in the oven
Oven
An oven is a thermally insulated chamber used for the heating, baking or drying of a substance. It is most commonly used for cooking. Kilns, and furnaces are special-purpose ovens...

.

Name


"Biscotti" is the plural form of biscotto. The word originates from the medieval Latin
Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin was the form of Latin used in the Middle Ages, primarily as a medium of scholarly exchange and as the liturgical language of the medieval Roman Catholic Church, but also as a language of science, literature, law, and administration. Despite the clerical origin of many of its authors,...

 word biscoctus, meaning "twice-cooked/baked." It defined oven baked goods that were baked twice, so they were very dry and could be stored for long periods of time. Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

 boasted that such goods would be edible for centuries. Such nonperishable food was particularly useful during journeys and wars, and twice baked breads were a staple food of the Roman Legion
Roman legion
A Roman legion normally indicates the basic ancient Roman army unit recruited specifically from Roman citizens. The organization of legions varied greatly over time but they were typically composed of perhaps 5,000 soldiers, divided into maniples and later into "cohorts"...

s.

Italy


The first documented recipe for the biscuit is a centuries-old manuscript, now preserved in Prato, found by the eighteenth-century scholar Amadio Baldanzi. In this document, the biscuits are called of Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

.


Although commonly used to indicate the biscuits of Prato, biscotti di Prato
Prato
Prato is a city and comune in Tuscany, Italy, the capital of the Province of Prato. The city is situated at the foot of Monte Retaia , the last peak in the Calvana chain. The lowest altitude in the comune is 32 m, near the Cascine di Tavola, and the highest is the peak of Monte Cantagrillo...

,
in modern Italy they are also known widely by the name "cantuccini." These names actually suggest other similar regional products of Italy. The term cantuccini ("little nooks") is most commonly used today in Tuscany
Tuscany
Tuscany is a region in Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.75 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence ....

, but originally refers to variations or imitations which deviate from the traditional recipe in a few key points such as the use of yeast
Yeast
Yeasts are eukaryotic micro-organisms classified in the kingdom Fungi, with 1,500 species currently described estimated to be only 1% of all fungal species. Most reproduce asexually by mitosis, and many do so by an asymmetric division process called budding...

s, acids (to make them less dry) and flavourings. Rusks are larger, longer biscuits, rustic bread dough enriched with olive oil and anise seeds.

The confusion on the name may have been born from the fact that on the old sign (still present) of "Biscottificio Antonio Mattei," the leading manufacturer of biscuits of Prato, is written just below the name of the shop: "Manufacturers of cantuccini," which at the time were one of the major products of the biscuits. The sign has remained unchanged, and after such a long time people are accustomed to associate the name "cantuccini" with the biscuits. typical of Sardegna and Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

.

Europe



Through Middle French
Middle French
Middle French is a historical division of the French language that covers the period from 1340 to 1611. It is a period of transition during which:...

, the word was imported into the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 as "biscuit", although in English as in Italian "biscuit" does not refer specifically to a twice-baked cookie, but applies to any type of biscuit.

In Italy and Spain, carquinyoli (kərkiˈɲɔɫi, plural carquinyolis), are made with whole or sliced almonds, typical of Catalonia
Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

 and also associated with the regions of Aragon
Aragon
Aragon is a modern autonomous community in Spain, coextensive with the medieval Kingdom of Aragon. Located in northeastern Spain, the Aragonese autonomous community comprises three provinces : Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Its capital is Zaragoza...

. In Batea
Batea, Tarragona
Batea is a municipality in the comarca of Terra Alta, Catalonia, Spain. Its population in 2006 was 2,106.Batea produces good-quality wine that has not reached high prices in the market and is mainly used for local daily consumption in the region....

, La Fatarella
La Fatarella
La Fatarella is a municipality in northern Terra Alta, within the region of Ribera d'Ebre.-History:One of the oldest buildings in La Fatarella was a Muslim watchtower in the site where the chapel of Mare de Déu of the Misericòrdia stands today. The name of the population is derived from the Arab...

, and Prat de Comte
Prat de Comte
Prat de Comte is a municipality in the comarca of Terra Alta, in the province of Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain.The name of the place has its origins in the Middle Ages, in the words: "el prat donat pel comte", the pasture donated by the Count....

, all inland municipalities of Catalonia, in the Terra Alta
Terra Alta
Terra Alta is a sparsely populated inland comarca in Catalonia, Spain. Its capital is Gandesa. It is also known as Castellania, a name dating back to its medieval status as a fiefdom held by the Order of Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem under the Crown of Aragon.- Municipalities...

 they are also called carquinyols. Biscotti are traditional also in some inland towns in Valencia
Valencia (province)
Valencia or València is a province of Spain, in the central part of the Valencian Community.It is bordered by the provinces of Alicante, Albacete, Cuenca, Teruel, Castellón, and the Mediterranean Sea...

, where they are called rosegons or rosegós. In Minorca
Minorca
Min Orca or Menorca is one of the Balearic Islands located in the Mediterranean Sea belonging to Spain. It takes its name from being smaller than the nearby island of Majorca....

, carquinyols are square shaped and do not include whole almonds. One Catalan
Catalan language
Catalan is a Romance language, the national and only official language of Andorra and a co-official language in the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencian Community, where it is known as Valencian , as well as in the city of Alghero, on the Italian island...

 food writer states that carquinyoli is derived from the French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 croquignole. Croquignole, another name for these biscotti, is a French word of Germanic origin.

North America


In North America, where "biscuit" has taken on other meanings, twice-baked cookies are known as biscotti.

Recipe


Following rediscovery of the original recipe by Prato-based pastry chef Antonio Mattei in the nineteenth century, his variation is what is now accepted as the traditional Biscotti recipe. Mattei brought his cakes to the Universal Exhibition of Paris of 1867, winning a special mention.

The mixture is composed exclusively of flour
Flour
Flour is a powder which is made by grinding cereal grains, other seeds or roots . It is the main ingredient of bread, which is a staple food for many cultures, making the availability of adequate supplies of flour a major economic and political issue at various times throughout history...

, sugar
Sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

, eggs
Egg (food)
Eggs are laid by females of many different species, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, and have probably been eaten by mankind for millennia. Bird and reptile eggs consist of a protective eggshell, albumen , and vitellus , contained within various thin membranes...

, pine nuts; and almonds that are not roasted or skinned. The traditional recipe uses no form of yeast
Yeast
Yeasts are eukaryotic micro-organisms classified in the kingdom Fungi, with 1,500 species currently described estimated to be only 1% of all fungal species. Most reproduce asexually by mitosis, and many do so by an asymmetric division process called budding...

 or fat
Fat
Fats consist of a wide group of compounds that are generally soluble in organic solvents and generally insoluble in water. Chemically, fats are triglycerides, triesters of glycerol and any of several fatty acids. Fats may be either solid or liquid at room temperature, depending on their structure...

 (butter, oil, milk). The barely wet dough is then cooked twice: once in slab form, and after cutting in sliced form, with the second baking defining how hard the biscotti are.

Traditionally in Italy, biscotti di Prato are sold together with another sweet speciality of Prato, the bruttiboni
Bruttiboni
Bruttiboni, also known as Mandorlati di San Clemente, is a type of almond-flavoured biscuit made in Prato, central Italy....

. Served after dessert, they are usually combined with orange juice
Orange juice
Orange juice is a popular beverage made from oranges. It is made by extraction from the fresh fruit, by desiccation and subsequent reconstitution of dried juice, or by concentration of the juice and the subsequent addition of water to the concentrate...

.

Modern variations



Today the regional variations of the original are still adhered to, but the modern mass-manufactured biscotti are in actual fact closer to cantuccini, variations of biscotti.

Resultantly, modern biscotti recipes often contain nut
Nut (fruit)
A nut is a hard-shelled fruit of some plants having an indehiscent seed. While a wide variety of dried seeds and fruits are called nuts in English, only a certain number of them are considered by biologists to be true nuts...

s (traditional almonds plus hazelnut
Hazelnut
A hazelnut is the nut of the hazel and is also known as a cob nut or filbert nut according to species. A cob is roughly spherical to oval, about 15–25 mm long and 10–15 mm in diameter, with an outer fibrous husk surrounding a smooth shell. A filbert is more elongated, being about twice...

s, pistachio
Pistachio
The pistachio, Pistacia vera in the Anacardiaceae family, is a small tree originally from Persia , which now can also be found in regions of Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Sicily and possibly Afghanistan , as well as in the United States,...

s, and pine nut
Pine nut
Pine nuts are the edible seeds of pines . About 20 species of pine produce seeds large enough to be worth harvesting; in other pines the seeds are also edible, but are too small to be of great value as a human food....

s are popular choices) or spice
Spice
A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetative substance used in nutritionally insignificant quantities as a food additive for flavor, color, or as a preservative that kills harmful bacteria or prevents their growth. It may be used to flavour a dish or to hide other flavours...

s such as anise
Anise
Anise , Pimpinella anisum, also called aniseed, is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. Its flavor resembles that of liquorice, fennel, and tarragon.- Biology :...

 or cinnamon
Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods...

.

Modern recipes include adding baking powder
Baking powder
Baking powder is a dry chemical leavening agent used to increase the volume and lighten the texture of baked goods such as muffins, cakes, scones and American-style biscuits. Baking powder works by releasing carbon dioxide gas into a batter or dough through an acid-base reaction, causing bubbles in...

 and spices to the flour. The nuts are then added to allow them to be coated, with the skins being left particularly when using almonds and hazelnuts. Separately, eggs
Egg (food)
Eggs are laid by females of many different species, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, and have probably been eaten by mankind for millennia. Bird and reptile eggs consist of a protective eggshell, albumen , and vitellus , contained within various thin membranes...

 are beaten together, and then any wet flavouring (e.g., almond extract or liquor), before being added to the dry ingredients. Following twice baking (once in long slab form, secondly in cut sliced form), the biscotti may be dipped in a glaze, such as chocolate
Chocolate
Chocolate is a raw or processed food produced from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. Cacao has been cultivated for at least three millennia in Mexico, Central and South America. Its earliest documented use is around 1100 BC...

.

Use



Being very dry, biscotti traditionally are served with a drink, into which they may be dunked. In Italy they are typically served as an after-dinner dessert with a Tuscan fortified wine called vin santo
Vin santo
Vin Santo or Vino Santo is a style of Italian dessert wine. Traditional in Tuscany, these wines are often made from white grape varieties such as Trebbiano and Malvasia, though Sangiovese may be used to produce a rosé style known as Occhio di Pernice or eye of the partridge...

.

Outside of Italy, they more frequently accompany coffee
Coffee
Coffee is a brewed beverage with a dark,init brooo acidic flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia,...

, including cappuccino
Cappuccino
A cappuccino is an Italian coffee drink prepared with espresso, hot milk, and steamed-milk foam. The name comes from the Capuchin friars, referring to the colour of their habits.- Definition :...

s and latte
Latte
A latte is a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk. Variants include replacing the coffee with another drink base such as masala chai, mate or matcha...

s, or black tea
Black tea
Black tea is a variety of tea that is more oxidized than the oolong, green, and white varieties.All four varieties are made from leaves of the shrub Camellia sinensis. Black tea is generally stronger in flavor and contains more caffeine than the less oxidized teas. Two principal varieties of the...

.

In Spain, carquinyoli are usually served with a small glass of a sweet dessert wine
Dessert wine
Dessert wines are sweet wines typically served with dessert.There is no simple definition of a dessert wine. In the UK, a dessert wine is considered to be any sweet wine drunk with a meal, as opposed to the white fortified wines drunk before the meal, and the red fortified wines drunk after it...

, such as muscat
Muscat (grape and wine)
The Muscat variety of grapes of the species Vitis vinifera is widely grown for wine, raisins and table grapes. Their color ranges from white to near black. Muscat almost always has a pronounced sweet floral aroma. Muscat grapes are grown around the world...

 or moscatell.

Culture


In the Catalan city Vic
Vic
Vic is the capital of the comarca of Osona, in the Barcelona Province, Catalonia, Spain. Vic's location, only 69 km far from Barcelona and 60 km from Girona, has made it one of the most important towns in central Catalonia.-History:...

, "Carquinyoli" is also the name of a ceremonial figure who orchestrates an annual summer fiesta in honor of the patron saint
Patron saint
A patron saint is a saint who is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person...

 Albert of Sicily. In Vilanova i la Geltrú
Vilanova i la Geltrú
Vilanova i la Geltrú is a city in the province of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain and the capital of the Garraf comarca. Originally a fishing port, the city has a growing population of approximately 66,000, and is situated 40 km south-west of Barcelona, with the more famous coastal resort of...

, biscotti with almonds are called currutacos and are most typically associated with Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four Canonical Gospels. ....

, when they are used to ornament the palm leaves that are distributed to worshipers.

Biscotti are much used as an ingredient in a variety of traditional dishes. In Catalonia, such dishes include rice with sardines and rabbit with snails. They are also used in sauces with onions (specifically calçot
Calçot
Calçot is a variety of green onion known as Blanca gran tardana in the Catalan language from Lleida, Catalonia. The Calçot from Valls is a registered EU Protected Geographical Indication....

s). In coastal Baix Llobregat
Baix Llobregat
Baix Llobregat is a comarca on the coast of Catalonia, Spain. Its capital is Sant Feliu de Llobregat.-Municipalities:Populations are from 2002.* Abrera - pop. 9,166* Begues - pop. 5,023* Castelldefels - pop. 52,405...

, biscotti are used in the sauce for a dish of duck stuffed with turnips.

See also

  • Bizcocho (disambiguation)
    Bizcocho
    Bizcocho is the name given in Spain and several Latin American countries to many variants of buttery flaky pastry and some cookies. Bizcochos have European origin, but have been developed and diversified in the Río de la Plata region –they are known as facturas in Argentina.-Assorted...

  • Biscuit
    Biscuit
    A biscuit is a baked, edible, and commonly flour-based product. The term is used to apply to two distinctly different products in North America and the Commonwealth Nations....

  • Biskotso
    Biskotso
    Biskotso refers to baked bread topped with butter and sugar, or garlic, in some cases.Biskotsos are a part of Filipino cuisine. They originated from Iloilo province....

  • Bizcocho
    Bizcocho
    Bizcocho is the name given in Spain and several Latin American countries to many variants of buttery flaky pastry and some cookies. Bizcochos have European origin, but have been developed and diversified in the Río de la Plata region –they are known as facturas in Argentina.-Assorted...

  • Mandelbrodt
  • Zwieback
    Zwieback
    Zwieback is a type of crisp, sweetened bread, made with eggs and baked twice.It is sliced before it is baked a second time, which produces crisp, brittle slices that closely resemble melba toast...

  • Rusk
    Rusk
    A rusk is a hard, dry biscuit or a twice-baked bread. It is sometimes used as a baby teething food. In the United Kingdom, the name also refers to a wheat-based food additive.- Germany :The zwieback A rusk is a hard, dry biscuit or a twice-baked bread. It is sometimes used as a baby teething food....

  • Hardtack
    Hardtack
    Hardtack is a simple type of cracker or biscuit, made from flour, water, and sometimes salt. Inexpensive and long-lasting, it was and is used for sustenance in the absence of perishable foods, commonly during long sea voyages and military campaigns. The name derives from the British sailor slang...

  • Crouton
    Crouton
    A crouton is a small piece of sautéed or rebaked bread, often cubed and seasoned, that is used to add texture and flavor to salads, notably the Caesar salad, as an accompaniment to soups, or eaten as a snack food. The word crouton is derived from the French croûton, itself derived from croûte,...

  • Catalan cuisine
    Catalan cuisine
    Catalan cuisine is a Mediterranean cuisine from Catalonia. It may also refer to the shared cuisine of Roussillon and Andorra, which has a similar cuisine to the Alt Urgell and Cerdanya comarques, often referred to as "Catalan mountain cuisine"...

  • Pignolo (disambiguation)

External links